Off Road View

In April of this year, one of my "uncles" passed away.  While grieving his loss, I remembered where this bond started and I began celebrating the unique environment that contains my first memories.

As a child in the 70's in Louisville, Kentucky, I spent a lot of time at the motorcycle track with close friends, "weekend warriors".  These warriors were a group made up of a wide variety of characters.  Some had good jobs, some were just out of school, some had families, some were just getting back from Vietnam, some were welcoming friends back. They loved rock 'n' roll, beer, and good friends.  I love that I grew up in this most diverse, fun, supportive environment.  These folks openly shared their passions, their friends, their faults, and their free spirits.  The older I get, the more I long for a community like this.  They may tell you that they had no idea what they were doing, but that is one of the best gifts of all.
In case you weren't alive back then or weren't growing up "at the track", let me share the sights and sounds as I remember them:

cut-off jean shorts, igloo coolers, green and white strappy lawn chairs, coca cola waxy paper cups, leather ponytail holders, homemade wine in "wineskins" (and their distinctive combination smell of cheap wine and leather), cigarettes, incense, off bug spray, coleman tents, cots and sleeping bags, rainbow striped canvas flip flops with rainbow striped soles, sparkly iron on tshirts, vienna sausages, saltine crackers, "chocola" offered up by "speedy" the mechanic, the smell of 2 cycle engine oil/gas exhaust, the hum and whine of the engines, the sound a novice's bike makes when he goes off a jump and stays on the throttle, the freedom of visiting with the other kids in their tents, campers, or station wagons, the freedom of wandering because all the other adults knew who you belonged to and had your back, track dust in your nostrils, the echo of multiple engines ghosting in your ears when you take a shower hours later.
Our families formed a village. In fact it felt like our small family grew into a larger one.  My mom is an only child and my dad has one sister.  Thanks to the track, the close friends and the bonds they kept, I have aunts, uncles, and cousins from that family that share more than DNA.
Here are some lessons I learned off-road:
It is as fun to go fast and win a race as it is to trail ride and enjoy the scenery.
If something breaks, you can learn how to fix it, find someone who'll fix it for you, or invent a part that keeps it from breaking again.
The track is always changing, getting rutted out, very dusty, or very muddy.  You may be equipped to handle it.  If not, there is someone not far behind that will pull you out, dust you off, or take the bike off of your body.
No matter who you are, what you look like, where you came from, or what you're into, you are respected, accepted, and welcomed.

I am grateful that this scene shaped how I view life.  I understand why I get uncomfortable with the mainstream.  I embrace the desire I have to go "off-road".